After what has felt like an interminably long wait, Tokyo 2020 is finally upon us.
The Olympic Games this summer will, as always, showcase sport on the greatest stage all.
Over 10,000 athletes from over 200 nations will battle for silverware; some of those athletes are already household names, others will achieve that status over the course of the Games.
The major sports will, as always, grab many of the headlines; track and field, gymnastics, swimming and the like are never far from the front pages but there are countless other sports in the 34 that make up the Olympic program, including four new additions to the schedule, that promise to deliver some scintillating action.
Here’s a run-down of each and every sport that will be featured at Tokyo 2020 – and who to watch out for in each event.
- Modern Pentathlon
- Rugby 7s
- Sport Climbing
- Table Tennis
- Water Polo
South Korea has dominated Olympic archery competitions over the past four decades and its archers will look to continue this streak in Tokyo.
In Rio five years ago, the South Koreans won all four gold medals ensuring a clean sweep of the men’s and women’s team events, plus the men’s and women’s individual titles.
They are favored to retain both team titles, while world number 1s, Lee Woo Seok and Kang Chae Young, are tipped to take the men’s and women’s individual titles respectively.
Fourth-ranked, Brady Ellison, of the USA won bronze in Rio and has his sights set on upgrading in Tokyo.
Sports fans are in for a treat over the ten days of athletics competition in Tokyo.
A new men’s Olympic 100m champion will be crowned following the retirement of three-time victor, Usain Bolt. American trio, Trayvon Brommell, Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley, as well as Canadian Andre de Grasse, are all strong contenders for gold, while Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica is tipped to regain the women’s 100m title she won in 2008 and 2012.
Recent world record breakers from the US, Sydney McLaughlin in the 400m hurdles and Ryan Crouser in the shot putt are ones to watch, as are fellow world record holders, Armand Duplantis of Sweden in the pole vault and Karsten Warholm of Norway in the 400m hurdles.
The Ingebrigtsen brothers, also from Norway, could pick up silverware in the middle-distance events while the African nations will monopolize the medals in the distance events.
In the relays, the US is favorites in both men’s events, as well as the women’s 4x400m but Jamaica is likely to take gold in the women’s sprint relay.
Grant Holloway and Keni Harrison, both of the US, look set for gold in the sprint hurdles while the absence of two-time 800m champion, Caster Semenya of South Africa leaves the door ajar for Ajee’ Wilson of the US to potentially take her 800m crown.
American superstar, Katie Ledecky, is already the most decorated female swimmer in history and she looks on track to add further to her medal haul in Tokyo.
Simone Manuel was a four-time medalist in Rio and is aiming for both individual and relay silverware while Caeleb Dressel, the fastest swimmer on the planet and the man who has been touted as a successor to Michael Phelps, is tipped to win his first individual Olympic silverware.
In the 100m breaststroke, Britain’s Adam Peaty is close to invincible and looks a dead-cert to retain the title he won in Rio while the host nation’s best swimmer, Daiya Seto, is Japan’s best medal hope.
China has dominated the diving competition at recent Games and looks set to repeat the feat in Tokyo.
However, aiming to break the stranglehold is 10m platform gold medalist at the 2012 Games, David Boudia of the US, who is aiming for a fourth Olympic medal in Tokyo while GB’s Jack Laugher and Chris Mears are defending the 3m synchro springboard title they won in Rio.
The Asian nations have been the dominant force in the sport for several decades and it is badminton which presents the host nation with some of its best gold medal chances.
Men’s singles number one, Kento Momota, could win Japan’s first-ever Olympic medal in the event with his toughest competition likely to come from the Danish duo of Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen.
Momota’s compatriots, women’s doubles world number ones, Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota, will aim for their first Olympic title.
In the women’s singles, defending champion Carolina Marin of Spain is absent through injury and so 2017 world champion and Rio bronze medalist, Nozumi Okuhara of Japan could well be a contender.
China and Indonesia will be in the mix for both mixed and men’s doubles gold.
Baseball and softball will return to the Olympic program for the first time since 2008.
In Tokyo, only six teams will compete in each discipline and in the baseball event, the USA is significantly weakened by the refusal of the MLB to interrupt its season to allow players to compete in Tokyo.
With baseball one of the host nation’s most popular sports, Japan will be pushing for the gold medal, as will 2008 champions, South Korea.
In softball, the USA’s Haylie McCleney has said her side is going not only to win, but to dominate.
Competition will come from the likes of Canada, Australia and, of course, the host nation.
Basketball will be contested in both the traditional 5×5 format, as well as 3×3, which is making its debut at the Olympics.
USA has dominated the five-a-side basketball competition, winning 15 of the 19 gold medals on offer for men while the women have won gold at eight of the past nine Olympics and it will take a sizeable shock for that dominance to be broken in Tokyo.
USA’s rosters for 5×5 are, as always, formidable, with the men’s squad spearheaded by three-time Olympian Kevin Durant while the women’s side is led by multiple gold medalists, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird.
The 3×3 event is much more of an unknown quantity to Olympic viewers, with men’s world number one, Serbia, aiming to win a historic first gold in their sport while in the women’s event, number one ranked France, who open their campaign against the USA, have similar ambitions.
Boxing has been contested at the Olympics all but once since 1904, with the sport taking a significant step towards equality with the introduction of women’s boxing in 2012.
Light heavyweight gold medalist in 2016, Julio Cesar La Cruz from Cuba is aiming for another Olympic crown and his defensive style never fails to entertain.
Eumir Marcial of the Philippines has attracted comparisons with compatriot, Manny Pacquiao and the middle-weight is hoping to win his country’s first-ever Olympic gold.
Uzbekistan topped the boxing medal table in Rio, helped along by Shakhobidin Zoirov’s flyweight gold. He has since turned pro but will return to the Olympic stage to defend his title.
On the women’s side, six-time world champion from India, flyweight Mary Kom is always one to keep an eye on, as is GB heavyweight, Lauren Price.
Canoe slalom and canoe sprint are the two disciplines that are included on the Olympic program.
Spain’s Maialen Chourraut will compete in her fourth consecutive Games and will defend her slalom title in Tokyo.
Jessica Fox of Australia sits atop both the kayak and canoe slalom rankings and is aiming to improve on her silver from London 2012 and bronze from Rio 2016.
In the kayak/canoe sprint, Germany’s Ronald Rauhe will compete in his sixth Games, winning four medals to date while his compatriot and fellow sprinter Sebastian Brendel, who is regarded as one of the sport’s true greats, will go for his fourth gold medal in Tokyo.
The cycling program in Tokyo is packed, with medals on offer in BMX, mountain biking, road and track.
BMX freestyler, Hannah Roberts of the USA, is still a teenager but the triple world champion is hot favorite to win gold in the new Olympic discipline.
Cross-country mountain biker, Nino Schurter of Switzerland will return to defend his title and France’s Loana Lecomte will be fighting for gold on the women’s side having dominated the World Cup season.
On the road, current Giro d’Italia champion, Tao Geoghegan Hart will make his Olympic debut for GB and defending champion, Greg van Avermaet from Belgium will return to the Olympic stage.
On the women’s side, the Netherlands look untouchable with legend of the sport, Marianne Vos joined by double world champion Annemiek van Vleuten as well as defending champion, Anna van der Breggen.
GB has dominated the track over the past decade but in Tokyo, they are likely to pick up fewer medals than at previous Games. However, sprinter, Jason Kenny, is aiming to add yet another gold to the six already in his collection, perhaps in the keirin, which is hugely popular in Japan and will attract some of the biggest audiences.
America’s women’s team pursuit squad, headed by Chloe Dygert, is tipped for gold.
Equestrian made its Olympic debut back in 1900 and it’s the only sport on the program in which men and women compete with and against each other on equal terms.
Germany’s dressage specialist, Isabell Werth became her sport’s most decorated Olympic rider ever in Rio, winning her sixth gold medal, 24 years after her first.
Another rider of note is US showjumper, Jessica Springsteen, daughter of rock star, Bruce, who will make her Olympic debut.
Fencing has featured at every Olympic Games since its inception in 1896.
Medals will be on offer in both team and individual events with three types of weapon used; foil, epee, and sabre.
Oh Sang-Uk of South Korea is a five-time world champion in sabre fencing and is fancied for gold in Tokyo despite being hospitalized with Covid earlier this year.
Tunisia’s Ines Boubakri has previously competed at three Olympic Games and will return having made history at Rio 2016 by winning a bronze medal in the foil competition – becoming the first African woman to earn a medal in fencing.
After returning to the Olympic program in Rio five years ago after a 112-year break, golf will be back in Tokyo, with individual strokeplay at Kasumigaseki Country Club determining the champions.
In the men’s event, Spain’s world number one, Jon Rahm is favorite for gold, while world number three, Justin Thomas, leads the American charge ably backed up by recent Open Championship winner, Colin Morikawa.
Recently crowned Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama, will be home favorite.
Women’s world number one and form player having won the recent Women’s PGA Championships, Nelly Korda of the USA, could win gold on her Olympic debut but will have to be at her best to beat the South Korean charge, spearheaded by defending champion, Park Inbee, who has said her priority for the season is to retain her Olympic title.
There are few Olympians quite as revered as Simone Biles. A genuine superstar of the USA team, Biles already has four Olympic golds to her name and she is a hot favorite to add to that tally in Tokyo as she defends her all-around, vault and floor titles, as well as being part of the USA squad which will aim to successfully defend the team title.
Home favorite Kohei Uchimura will be making his fourth, and last, Olympic appearance in Tokyo.
In Rio in 2016, he led Japan to team gold, as well as winning his second successive all-around title but in Tokyo, he will focus on the horizontal bar.
Likely to take Uchimura’s all-around title is Russian Nikita Nagornyy, who recently had an element named after him while the US team, which has an outside chance of a team medal, is led by three-time Olympian, Sam Mikulak.
In rhythmic gymnastics, Russian twins, Dina and Arina Averina are tipped to finish in gold and silver positions.
Denmark are the reigning men’s Olympic champions, as well as current world champions, with the side heading to Tokyo looking to successfully defend their title. They are spearheaded by goalscorer, Mikkel Hansen, who is a three-time player of the year.
The Danes will face a strong challenge from 2008 and 2012 champions, France, who won silver in Rio.
In the women’s event, Russia are defending Olympic champions but with 2008 and 2012 champions Norway boasting the 2019 world player of the year, Stine Oftedal, in their line-up, the Scandinavian nation will be worth looking out for.
The Netherlands, who currently top the world rankings, have been the dominant side in women’s hockey over the past decade-or-so but the Dutch, who won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012, were beaten in the 2016 final in a penalty shootout by GB and will be looking to regain their crown in Tokyo. Playmaker, Eva de Goede, is their player to watch.
Traditionally, India and Pakistan dominated men’s hockey but they have lost their grip at the top of the sport in recent decades and it is Argentina who will be defending their title in Tokyo having won their country’s first-ever Olympic gold in Rio.
Australia are world number one and are aiming for their first men’s Olympic title since winning gold in 2004.
Japan is the home of judo and two of the great gold medal hopes for the host nation are the brother and sister pairing of Uta and Hifumi Abe.
Uta, the double -52kgs women’s world champion, will be making her Olympic debut while her elder brother, Hifumi, is a double world champion and will compete in the -66kgs category.
Their compatriot, Shohei Ono, is also a hot favorite for gold in the -73kgs class. He is defending champion and is unbeaten in international competition in five years.
France’s heavyweight superstar, Teddy Riner, is going for his third consecutive Olympic title while Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo will be back to defend the -52kgs title she won in Rio, becoming her nation’s first-ever Olympic medalist in the process.
Karate is another one of the sports making its Olympic debut this summer and will take place at Tokyo’s famous Nippon Budokan.
Japan’s Kiyou Shimizu is the poster girl in the kata category while in the men’s kata category, her compatriot Ryo Kiyuna has barely lost in recent years and is hot favorite for gold.
For the USA’s Sakura Kokumai, these Games will be something of a homecoming. The Hawaii native has Japanese parents and spent much of her childhood in Japan and is USA’s best chance of karate silverware.
Spain are a mighty force too, with Damian Quintero and Sandra Sanchez both ranked number one in the world in kata.
Neither of the Rio 2016 champions will be back to defend their titles so the field is wide open. In an historic move, all five events will take place in the same venue; the Tokyo Stadium.
France’s Valentin Prades is known as one of the best modern pentathletes of his generation but he is yet to win an Olympic medal and heads to Tokyo focused on rectifying that while his compatriot, two-time world champion, Valentin Belaud, is also chasing his first Olympic silverware.
On the women’s side, GB athletes have medaled at four of the last five Olympics, with Kate French leading the charge this time around while Michelle Gulyas of Hungary is the top-ranked competitor.
The Sea Forest Waterway on Tokyo Bay will host the rowing competition and, in a move towards equality, the women’s coxless four replaces the men’s lightweight coxless four.
GB topped the rowing medal table in 2016 and the most notable inclusion in their squad for Tokyo is two-time gold medallist, Helen Glover, having had three children since Rio. She returns this summer and is in the hunt for a third gold, again in the pair.
USA have dominated the women’s eight, winning gold at the past three Olympics but they will have to upset the odds to continue their run, with New Zealand favorites to take the title.
2012 bronze medallist, Kara Kohler of the USA, almost quit the sport after missing out on selection for 2016 but returns in Tokyo in the single sculls.
Norway’s Olaf Tufte will compete in his seventh Games having already won four medals.
Rugby 7s was a hugely popular addition to the Olympic program in 2016 and returns in Tokyo, with Tokyo Stadium hosting the event.
Having hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2019, Japan has a real appetite for rugby and there promises to be some thrilling action.
Fiji will defend their men’s title but the tournament is wide open with Rio silver medalists, GB, fast-improving USA as well as New Zealand and Australia all likely to be in the mix.
On the women’s side, reigning Olympic champions, Australia, could well face New Zealand in the final once again in what would be a re-run of the 2016 gold medal match.
Taking place at Enoshima Yacht Harbour, the sailing competition will award medals in six classes.
Traditionally, GB and the USA have been the dominant nations but recent years have seen more countries get in on the action.
Four-time world champion, 59-year-old Santiago Lange of Argentina, returns to defend his Nacra 17 title, 33 years after his first Olympic appearance and seven years after being diagnosed with cancer.
Spain’s Blanca Manchon will return to the Olympics 17 years after her last appearance at the Games as a teenager. The windsurfer has said the one thing missing from her collection is an Olympic medal.
There are 15 medal events and several shooters are aiming to add to their already impressive medal tallies in Tokyo.
Vincent Hancock will lead the US charge in the shotgun range. Having won his first world title 16 years ago, the 32-year-old has since won two Olympic golds, in 2008 and 2012. He missed out on a podium place in Rio but looks back to his best and likely to medal in Tokyo.
Pistol shooter Jin Jong-Oh of South Korea is already the sport’s most successful Olympian with four golds and heads to Tokyo looking for his fifth.
In the women’s events, history will be made by Georgian pistol shooter Nino Salukvadze, who is set to compete in her ninth Olympics while USA’s Mary Tucker is the world number one in air rifle and will make her Olympic debut.
For the first time ever, the Olympics will include mixed team events in air rifle, air pistol and trap.
Tokyo will see skateboarding make its Olympic debut, in which medals will be on offer in both park and street disciplines.
The sport will showcase some of the youngest Olympians in history with the home nation’s 12-year-old Kokona Hiraki as well as 13-year-old Sky Brown from GB likely to be in the mix for medals in park. They will be up against the USA’s Brighton Zeuner, who has high hopes of a medal.
On the men’s side, street skateboarder Nyjah Huston is a superstar of the sport and the highest-paid skateboarder in the world. He is a four-time world champion and twelve-time X Games champion and is expected to add Olympic gold to his collection this summer.
His greatest competition will come from Japan’s Yuto Horigome, who defeated the American at the recent World Championships.
The women’s tournament showcases the best players in the game and USA have dominated, winning four of the five available Olympic gold medals since 1996.
However, they failed to grab a spot on the podium in 2016 and so the squad, spearheaded by Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, are focused on adding Olympic gold to their two recent World Cup victories.
Defending champions and world-ranked number two, Germany, will not go down without a fight, however.
The men’s tournament is restricted to under-23 players, with three overage players permitted.
Brazil won on home soil in 2016 and will once again be dangerous, while the African teams such as previous champions, Cameroon and Nigeria, can often be a threat to the traditionally strong nations.
Sport Climbing is another Olympic debutant in Tokyo and will include three disciplines; Speed, Bouldering and Lead.
Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret is a true great of the sport despite still being only 22 years old. She excels in bouldering and lead, and is close to a dead cert for gold while Japan’s highest-profile climber is Miho Nonaka, who won the 2018 Bouldering World Cup.
In the men’s competitions French brothers, Mickael and Bassa Mawem, are veterans of the climbing scene who shot to fame in their home country for their appearances on the Ninja Warrior TV show while 17-year-old Colin Duffy of the USA is a teenage sensation having already won the Pan-Am Championships
Surfing will make its highly anticipated debut in Tokyo, with the 20 men and 20 women fighting for medals in the spectacular setting of Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach onJapan’s pacific coastline.
In the women’s event, the battle for gold is expected to be between USA’s four-time world champion, Carissa Moore, and seven-time world champion, Stephanie Gilmore of Australia.
The USA will also be fighting for gold in the men’s event in the shape of John John Florence although knee surgery in May disrupted his preparations.
Brazil’s Gabriel Medina is always entertaining to watch while Japan’s hopes rest with Kanoa Igarashi, who honed his trade growing up in California.
China has been the most dominant nation in the sport by some distance since table tennis became part of the Olympics in 1988, winning 28 of the 32 available gold medals, including all four – men’s and women’s singles and men’s and women’s team – in Rio in 2016.
Men’s world number one, Fan Zhendong, will lead the Chinese team while the host nation’s teenage sensation, Tomokazu Harimoto, is also a favorite for silverware.
On the women’s side, China’s world number one, Chen Meng, is tipped to continue her country’s run of winning every women’s singles Olympic gold medal to date.
Hend Zaza of Syria will, at the age of 12 years old, be the youngest competitor at the Games this summer.
This year, a fifth medal event, the mixed doubles, will be on the program.
South Korea has traditionally been the dominant force in the sport but recent years have seen a far greater spread of success.
GB’s -57kgs star, Jade Jones, is aiming for her third consecutive gold while Kimia Alizadeh Zonouzi will make her second Olympic appearance after winning bronze in Rio, becoming the first Iranian woman ever to win an Olympic medal in the process. In Tokyo, she will be one of the 29 athletes competing on the refugee team.
The USA has medalled at every Olympics in taekwondo but only two Americans have qualified for Tokyo: Paige McPherson, who won bronze in 2012, and 18-year-old Anastasija Zolotic.
On the men’s side, Lee Dae-Hoon is South Korea’s best hope for gold with the -68kgs athlete having previously won silver and bronze.
A number of tennis’ top stars, including former gold medalists Serena Williams and Rafa Nadal, will be absent from Tokyo but despite this, there will be no shortage of quality tennis on show.
Four-time grand slam champion, Naomi Osaka, is one of the faces of the Games and will have the hopes of a nation on her shoulders. Having taken a break from the game for mental health reasons, she will return in Tokyo to make her Olympic debut. World number one, Ash Barty of Australia will be top seed, however, Former world number one and recent Wimbledon finalist, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, could provide a few upsets.
Men’s singles number one, Novak Djokovic, who has won all four grand slam titles, will aim to complete the set with Olympic gold. Double champion, Andy Murray of GB, appears unlikely to be able to replicate the form that brought him gold in London and Rio.
The doubles competition never fails to entertain, with players restricted to partnerships within their own nation.
The USA’s Bethany Mattek-Sands won mixed doubles gold in Rio and with that event off the schedule in Tokyo, the nine-time doubles grand slam champion will partner top-30 singles player, Jessica Pegula, in the women’s doubles, with the pair certainly ones to watch.
Men’s double gold medalist, Alistair Brownlee, failed to make the GB Olympic team for Tokyo but his brother and two-time medalist, Jonny, will be pushing for his first Olympic gold.
Three-time world champion Mario Mola of Spain is in the hunt for his first Olympic medal at the third time of trying.
Women’s defending champion, Gwen Jorgensen of the USA, has retired from competition but Switzerland’s 2012 champion and 2016 silver medallist, Nicola Spirig, is the most successful female triathlete in Olympic history and will make her fifth Olympic appearance at the age of 39.
The USA’s Taylor Knibb will become her country’s youngest ever triathlete at the age of 23 and the former double world junior champion could be pushing for a spot on the podium in Tokyo.
The mixed team relay will make its Olympic debut this summer and, with each of the four teammates completing a shortened course, is never dull to watch.
Indoor volleyball returns to the nation in which it made its Olympic debut in 1964.
In the men’s event, defending champions, spearheaded by three-time medalist, setter Bruno Rezende, are the side to beat and have shown good recent form having gone through the 2019 World Cup season unbeaten.
China have won back-to-back women’s World Cup titles and are reigning Olympic champions although current world champions, Serbia, have their sights set on improving on their silver from 2016.
Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway are favorites to take the men’s beach title while on the women’s side, world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada are tipped for gold. However, they face a stiff test from two-time Olympic medalist, April Ross and recent convert to beach, Alix Klineman of the USA.
Men’s water polo debuted at the Games in 1900 but it was an entire century before women were invited to compete.
Traditionally, the Hungarian men have dominated the sport, winning nine gold medals, including, most recently, a hat-trick from 2000 to 2008. However, they failed to make the podium in Rio, where Serbia won their first gold.
Current world champions, Italy, are in the frame but their loss to the USA at the recent World League Super Final highlights just how wide open the men’s event is
On the women’s side, anything other than a win for the USA would be a major surprise. Having won the past two Olympic titles, they are hot favorites to make it three in a row and with the squad spearheaded by Maggie Steffens, who was voted MVP in Rio and London, they have no shortage of experience in their ranks.
China dominated the weightlifting event in Rio, winning five golds and are on track to be a strong force yet again.
Rio -69kgs champion, Shi Zhiyong, is now world record holder in the -73kgs class in snatch, clean and jerk, and total and so appears unbeatable however, he will be up against the American dubbed “the LeBron James of weightlifting”, CJ Cummings, who will make his Olympic debut.
On the women’s side, Sarah Robles won USA’s sole weightlifting medal in Rio and returns in the +87kgs class while one of the biggest stories of the Games is likely to be the participation of New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard, who will make history as the first trans woman to compete in the Olympic Games. She will go in the +87kgs category.
Wrestling is considered the world’s oldest sport and both Greco-Roman and freestyle disciplines will be featured in Tokyo, with many of the sport’s stars hailing from Iran, Russia and America.
The USA’s Adeline Gray is quite possibly the greatest female freestyle wrestler of all time. She is a five-time world champion but, as yet, has not got her hands on Olympic silverware after going out in the quarter-finals in 2016. However, she is the hot favorite to win -76kgs gold in Tokyo despite there being a strong contingent from the host nation.
Her compatriot, Kyle Snyder, will be defending his -97kgs freestyle title while Cuba’s Mijain Lopez has won gold in Greco-Roman at every Games since 2008 and is going for his fourth straight title in Tokyo.